Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Webcast of Steve's New Yorker appearance
NEW YORKER FEST: WIT, LIT AND SPIT
By KYLE SMITH
Jon Stewart's back at this weekend's New Yorker Festival.
October 5, 2006 -- THE New Yorker Festival offers an opportunity to sidle up to today's leading writers, editors and humorists - and see what they look like when they get spit on.
The seventh annual weekend festival, which opens tomorrow night and comprises more than 50 events, will include an encore interview of Jon Stewart by New Yorker Editor David Remnick to benefit the U.S.O.
When he signed up for last year's chat with Stewart, Remnick says, "I didn't know people still did a spit take. But I asked him some idiotic questions, and I ended up with water all over my shirt." Which sounds less disturbing than another event, in which food writer Bill Buford "practically burned down a kitchen."
If only Stewart could have his spit takes ready for Buford's flames. Stewart and Buford, who will make lunch with Babbo chef Mario Batali, sold out their events quickly - the former in three minutes. A few events still have tickets available through newyorker.com, including best-selling writer Lawrence Wright's talk on al Qaeda, film critic Anthony Lane's take on Ava Gardner, several readings and the seemingly oxymoronic New Yorker dance party. (Are they doing the robot or just not used to exercise?)
Other talent on hand includes Pedro Almodovar, Nora Ephron, Zadie Smith, Tom Stoppard and cartoonist Roz Chast, who will field questions from part-time New Yorker writer Steve Martin. Chast and Martin are pals, says Remnick. "I think they met through The New Yorker." Now they're working together on a children's book about the alphabet.
Remnick says the festival (which is "much better," he says, than the similar program offered by The New York Times next weekend - your turn to throw down, Pinch!) is profitable and will be around at least as long as he is. "These things sell out at a rate that continues to astonish us," Remnick adds.
To deal with that, the magazine will for the first time present Webcasts on newyorker.com, though they won't be posted until next week. The Chast-Martin discussion will be streamed along with four other events, including Malcolm Gladwell's talk on secrets.
The festival extends the magazine's carefully nurtured brand, which is venturing in directions that might have disgruntled the editors Tom Wolfe dubbed "tiny mummies" in 1965. There's a new board game, for instance. Can a John Updike action figure be far behind?
"It's not a religion here," says Remnick, who personally approves every coaster and shower curtain. "It's meant to be fun as well as serious. So if there's a great cover and somebody makes a poster of it and it's done well, I don't see how that stuff stops us from breaking the Abu Ghraib story." The board game is based on a new feature that's already become an institution: the back-page cartoon caption contest, whose fans are delirious bordering on psychotic. Just ask Mike Bloomberg.
"Mayor Bloomberg came up to me once," Remnick recalls, "and he had a slightly accusatory look on his face, and I thought, 'Uh-oh.' He said, 'I keep sending in these cartoon captions and I never get in, and it's starting to p - - - me off.' "